Clinical forensic imaging encompasses the diverse application of imaging procedures that serve the same purpose: to enable the analysis and investigation of criminal activities and the consequences of a crime.
All kinds of imaging techniques and their corresponding images can be subsumed under "forensigraphy", a more comprehensive term for forensic imaging created by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Clinical Forensic Imaging in Graz, Austria.
As the word forensigraphy suggests, criminal imaging material should be of use in forensic investigations. Ideally, this can lead to new findings that would not have been revealed without the application of imaging techniques and are moreover admissible as evidence in criminal proceedings.
However, the admissibility of evidence can only be facilitated through the implementation of clinical forensic imaging techniques into the forensic routine casework, which requires a precise pre-analysis of the corresponding legal framework.
Clinical forensic imaging methods
Because taking and displaying internal images of a person's body touches upon various aspects of one's physical and psychological integrity, imaging methods in general and clinical forensic imaging methods especially have a strong impact on and interfere regularly with the fundamental rights of the concerned person.
Particularly about a possible medical context, certain legal regulations must be considered. Therefore, this paper examines forensic imaging in the field of radiological forensigraphy, specifically, it is in vivo (i.e. clinical) application.
It is designed to enlighten readers as to the great significance of legal barriers that emerge from fundamental rights, as laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) when dealing with clinical forensic imaging.
Thus, the legal framework of clinical forensic imaging procedures is comprehensively described, the relevant fundamental rights, especially the right to respect for private and family life, the right to data protection and certain procedural guarantees, are concisely presented to further raise awareness regarding the importance of fundamental rights.
Under the heading of clinical forensic imaging or clinical forensigraphy, technological possibilities are rapidly evolving and provide new opportunities for the forensic physician to detect relevant traces on and within the body of an examined person.
All these efforts are directed at achieving increased legal certainty in judicial proceedings. This paper provides legal insight into the sensitivities surrounding new technological advances.
In sensitive areas, such as forensic imaging, almost every action leads to the interference of fundamental rights. Hence, it is essential for physicians and affected persons to have a basic knowledge concerning their rights and obligations. Clinical forensic imaging not only enables scientific development in the field of forensic sciences but above all serves the end user, the judiciary.